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Kansas joins I-SaveRx prescription drug importation program     Send a link to a friend

[NOV. 30, 2004]  TOPEKA, Kan. -- Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich joined Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in Topeka today to announce that Kansas is joining the I-SaveRx prescription drug importation program -- the first program in the nation to allow citizens to purchase lower-cost, safe prescription drugs from state-approved pharmacies in Europe and Canada.

"I want to commend Governor Sebelius for her leadership and encourage other states to join us in this bold step to take control away from powerful pharmaceutical companies and give it to the hardworking Americans who are unable to pay for their medicine," Gov. Blagojevich said. "Lifesaving medications should not be luxury products available only to people who can afford them. Through I-SaveRx, seniors and others with high prescription drug costs can now afford the medicine they need. Today we're extending that opportunity to Kansas' 2.7 million residents."

"We must make health care and life-sustaining prescription drugs more affordable for seniors and hardworking Kansans," Gov. Sebelius said. "After carefully reviewing the I-SaveRx program, I'm convinced it will help tens of thousands of Kansans safely obtain the medicine they need at prices they can afford. I'm grateful to Governor Blagojevich for his leadership and his willingness to allow Kansas to participate in this innovative partnership."

Kansas is the fourth state to join the program developed by Illinois and launched in early October. Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle announced that his state would participate in I-SaveRx when the program began, and less than a month later Gov. Bob Holden announced Missouri's entrance into the program.

With the addition of Kansas, I-SaveRx now provides more than 26 million residents in four states with access to lower-priced prescription drugs through a network of more than 60 inspected and approved pharmacies and wholesalers in Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Consumers in Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin and Illinois can look up I-SaveRx prices and start the enrollment process by calling toll-free 1 (866) ISAVE33 [1 (866) 472-8333] or visiting www.I-SaveRx.net.

Earlier this month, Gov. Sebelius launched the Healthy Kansas initiative, an innovative program designed to contain runaway health care costs, streamline the health care system, and make health insurance and prescription drugs more affordable for thousands of Kansas' children, working parents, and small-business owners and employees. Kansas' participation in I-SaveRx is another illustration of Gov. Sebelius' dedication to the people of Kansas and her determination to rein in exorbitant health care spending by citizens and the state alike.

Gov. Blagojevich launched I-SaveRx on Oct. 4 and extended an invitation to other states to join the program. Participants in the I-SaveRx plan can save an average of 25 percent to 50 percent on the cost of the most common medications used to treat chronic conditions. For instance, a three-month supply of the drug Lipitor in 20 mg doses, which is used to treat high cholesterol, costs an average of $302 in the United States but is available through I-SaveRx for $203 from Ireland, $214 from the United Kingdom and $210 from Canada, plus the $15 per order shipping charge. A three-month supply of Celebrex in 100 mg doses, used to treat arthritis pain, costs $160 in the United States but only $80 in Ireland, $78 in the United Kingdom and $72 in Canada, plus shipping.

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The program connects users to the I-SaveRx clearinghouse, administered by CanaRx, through the website www.I-Saverx.net or toll-free telephone number 1 (866) ISAVE-33 [1 (866) 472-8333]. The clearinghouse provides users with information on the list of medications included in the program, prices in each of the three countries, enrollment forms and guidance. Consumers can enjoy one-stop shopping rather than contacting numerous pharmacies to gather information and compare prices.

Before ordering, new enrollees must mail or have their doctor fax a completed health profile form and signed prescription to the clearinghouse. Once the clearinghouse has received the prescription and health profile form, it will conduct an initial scan for appropriateness using the same drug interaction software used in Illinois pharmacies. If the prescription passes the interaction test, it will then be turned over to a network physician in the country from which the medication will be dispensed. The physician will review and rewrite the prescription for a local network pharmacy, which will perform a final safety check to comply with local laws and regulations before dispensing the medication.

The I-SaveRx import program builds in numerous safety measures to ensure the quality and safety of drugs dispensed. The list of available drugs is limited to those that are used for long periods of time and that cannot spoil during the shipping process. Consumers can order eligible drugs for refill only, so patients and their doctors have had time to review for unanticipated side effects or interactions. All network pharmacies agree to comply with Illinois pharmaceutical standards and to dispense only drugs that are intended as domestic product in Canada, Ireland or the United Kingdom -- meaning the pharmacies cannot dispense to I-SaveRx consumers prescription drugs from countries that are not part of the program.

While all residents of Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and Kansas are eligible to enroll in I-SaveRx, the states are focusing their promotional efforts on reaching people who do not have prescription drug coverage -- estimated at roughly 6 million individuals in the four states combined. Of that total, older citizens have the greatest need for relief.

According to the Center for Policy Alternatives, one out of every five senior citizens takes at least five prescription medications daily. Last year, the prices of the 30 prescription drugs used most by senior citizens rose more than four times faster than the rate of inflation, according to Families USA.

Since launching I-SaveRx, Gov. Blagojevich embarked on an aggressive outreach campaign, visiting more than a dozen Illinois senior centers and explaining the new program to seniors. In addition, the departments of Aging and Public Health are reaching out to seniors and physicians throughout the state to spread information about the program and enrollment procedures.

[News release from the governor's office]

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